VIDEO: The science of why belly flops hurt

Any swimmer (or diver) who has ever done a belly flop has wondered the same thing: how can a liquid like water feel so solid?

Sure, maybe it’s not the first question you ask yourself. (That honor would go to “Why did I do that?” or “How long will my body feel like it’s on fire?”). But it always feels like mystery how water can feel so soft as you swim through it, but so solid when you land on it like a sack of potatoes.

For anyone still curious on the subject, Norwegian broadcasting company NRK has some answers, laid out in the short video above. That video comes to us courtesy of NRK’s YouTube page.

The writing onscreen is all in Norwegian, naturally, but if you turn on YouTube’s closed captions, you can get a pretty solid translation of the factors involved.

Here’s a quick transcript of the translated notes:

Diving…

Liquid water has relatively strong molecular binding…

Compressing water molecules requires a lot of force…

This makes water harder than you think…

The water must be shifted out of the way…

It takes time…

for the water to envelop your body

The full video, though, features some footage of these principles in action. That is, the video features a guy doing a full-on bellyflop off a diving board.

Even if physical science isn’t your cup of tea, that should brighten your Tuesday morning.

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About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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